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The latest news and perspective from the Director of Urban Homeworks
I put Sam on the bus for his first day of school;
I peeked in the door and felt like a fool;
As I entrusted the driver whom I never knew;
And realized deeply… Mr. Driver, I need you…
Sam arrived at school that day ready to go;
The teacher at the door was managing the flow;
Each one welcomed, and then right through;
I realized deeply, Ms. Door Person, I need you…
He strutted to his locker at the 1st grade;
A new friend in the hall before class he made;
Where did this kid come from… his parents are who?
And I realized deeply, Kid’s parents… I need you…
With a book from a shelf near the window ledge,
Sammy sat at his desk and his attention did pledge;
All day long, with a man I barely even knew;
And I became keenly aware… Mr. F… I need you…
When the parents gathered later at the school;
As adults to connect and our knowledge to pool;
The school understood the need to teach and encourage parents too;
Together I realized, fellow parents, I need you…
All our kids ready for college is the Promise we make;
No child will we allow those damn prisons to take;
Whatever it Takes, is what we must do;
And then it dawned on me, which may stink for you… but, you need me too.
We need each other. Thank you for walking alongside UHW.
Want to hear more? Follow this link to watch Chad speak more about using the power of relationships to create opportunities for our kids to thrive (Perpetuate the Hope Luncheon, 2013).
This morning I asked our corner coffee shop owner, “What’s the word, Sammy?” He paused, then responded, “I don’t think I have one…do you?”
Having just come from a meeting where I’d had the opportunity to share how our mission strives to perpetuate the hope of Jesus Christ, the idea that this “hope of Jesus” we aspire to “perpetuate” is measured by how it disproportionately benefits the children around us had just been reinforced in my mind.
“What’s good for our kids is good for everyone”, summarizes my favorite community development and mission theories. Jesus agrees; his mission was fundamentally grounded in our ability to ‘hear’ the quiet voices, ‘see’ our own blind spots, and to begin the all-encompassing, self-redefining work to bridge gulfs and tear down the walls.
Research shows that 24.6% of my north Minneapolis neighbors (584 households) have been in the neighborhood for less than 1 year, 5% higher than our neighbors in Northeast Minneapolis (for example). 14.1% of our housing is vacant (compared to 8.3% citywide, 676 homes) in the face of a growing, insidious waiting list for attainable homes to rent or buy. Disparities existing in household income, employment, academic attainment, and more, are disproportionally impacting those among us who have the quietest voice: children and the elderly.
2012 was a year of forging nimble solutions on behalf of our children to reweave our relationships by using the redemption of the real estate in our community as platforms to enhance social and economic capital thereby increasing longevity and livability.
I think the “word” is volume. We need your help to adjust attention, listen more acutely, manage the deafening noise, coalesce the messages, create powerful solutions, and courageously turn up the “volume” of the whispers in our ear.
Thank you. Thank you for responding in 2012 and for what might emerge on the horizon in 2013 and beyond!
Jesus heals both the woman bent over and a man with dropsy (Luke 14 - a growing, miserly desire to hoard wealth) from physical and societal oppression, on a Sabbath, around Pharisees. Though they converge, it’s easier to see the woman bent over and pity her, than to also see the same forces oppressing me, causing dropsy in me.
Theocracy inhibited the restoration of both individuals, so Jesus clarified that the Sabbath is not for managing and maintaining the masses, but for the transformation of both the oppressed minority and the wealthy hoarder. We cannot let theocratic forces keep anyone bent over or bloated – we must embrace the Sabbath.
I want to enlist you in the internal and external struggle to taste liberation, one so intoxicating you can never go back. Use these stories for internal examination, and retell them as a critique of our society. It takes courage to fill the hungry with good things, and for the rich to come away empty. We must see the oppressive economics at work on all of us, and the healing we all need connects us – that we may all taste more fully the kingdom and heaven and this beloved community, here and now.
The tornado of May 22, 2011 ripped off our roofs and peeled back the raw reality of our economic vulnerability… but we stood. We stood shoulder to shoulder in the rubble after the storm and worked tirelessly alongside each other, fueled by hope, and joined by the generosity, hands, and hearts of people from all over the metro, state, and region.
In the days, weeks, and months that followed, we worked to leverage and build on the relationships from the tornado recovery in order to realize the economically vibrant, healthy community we envision ourselves to be. As another anniversary rolls around, we can’t diminish the remaining challenges faced by many, but we also must celebrate how far we’ve come.
Today, we have new opportunities and new challenges. The tornado recovery, the housing recovery, and the economic recovery are bringing about low vacancy rates, rising rents, and firming home values in north Minneapolis. Looming “get-rich-quick” real estate investors and real estate investment trusts are poised to buy 100s and 1,000s of houses in our neighborhoods.
We stood through the rubble of the Wall-Street foreclosure crisis. We stood through the rubble of the tornado. So we shall stand together once more. I am proud to be a Northsider.
In February I attended a conference with the Bartimaeus Institute. We focused on studying chapters 12-19 of Luke. In Luke’s Gospel, we read the themes of ‘raising up the lowly’ and ‘sending the rich away empty’. The woman in Luke 13 crippled by a spirit for 18 years, evokes memories of Israelite slavery for that same time frame. This woman not only had a physical burden like scoliosis, but she also had the spirit of marginalization and exploitation bending her over. Jesus released and re-humanized her.
Jesus reminded (harshly) the protesting religious leaders that they unbind their oxen and donkeys on Sabbath days. Jesus released her from oppression/burden/debt as those animals are released from their yokes – a political-economic analogy, usurping the inculturated norms.
I am learning more how this powerful Book speaks beyond the literal toward proverbial reflections of our systems and culture. Do you know the “bent over women” of your neighborhood, your city?